Back to the Grind

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Summer is a time to relax. The kids are out of school, the days are longer and more leisurely, and vacations are the norm. For many of us, tension seems to fade away…. But summer's over. Now it's back to the grind ... and that means more STRESS. While some tension might keep you sharp, studies show chronic stress can lead to higher blood sugars, depression, ulcers, GERD and IBS, arthritis, erection problems and a compromised immune system, not to mention high blood pressure and heart disease.

Laurence Sperling,MD, Director of Preventive Cardiology, Emory
Especially if you have hostile feelings or you tend to internalize a lot of your stress and anxiety or if you are a hot-reactor, a Type-A person-there is good evidence that these people are at higher heart risk.

Fortunately, there are a number of creative strategies you can use to limit stress: A hobby like art or music can strike the right chord. Find a social outlet … a study tracking breast cancer patients found that those who attended weekly support groups lived twice as long as those who didn't. Keep a journal. Research shows writing down your feelings can reduce tension. Try cutting back on caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. And exercise on a regular basis-it releases chemicals in the brain that block stress.
So if you find yourself with any of these symptoms
headache or backache; stiff neck or tight shoulders; feeling jumpy or exhausted all the time; or worrying too much and finding it hard to concentrate, don't just suffer … take action. Pamper yourself with a massage or yoga class, and don't forget to smile….

Laurence Sperling, MD
Keeping a smile on your face, Trying to not sweat the small things and keeping a perspective on your day to day stress levels can be an important factor for all of us in terms of our long-term health.

For WebMD, I'm Sandee LaMotte